CFP: [General] 39th Annual College English Association Conference (Nov. 1, 2007; CEA March 27-29, 2008)

full name / name of organization: 
Marina Christi Favila
contact email: 


The 39th Annual College English
      Association Conference
St. Louis, Missouri, March 27-29, 2008

Conference Theme

The clean, elegant lines of the St. Louis Gateway Arch rise high above
the Mississippi River, a literal representation of the city’s most famous
epithet, “Gateway to the West.” Inspired by this image, CEA pays tribute
to St. Louis and to the many pioneers who passed through its threshold,
risking the world they knew for nothing more (or less) than the promise
of a new beginning. Our theme for the 2008 conference is Passages.

We could have chosen various terms to investigate this theme--travel,
sojourn, migration--but the word “passages” not only suggests the many
journeys we hope to explore in literature and film, but also signals the
importance of the transitional moment, when one must leap into the
unknown and face/embrace the change that follows. Poets, novelists,
dramatists, and directors have long been drawn to the idea of a rite of
passage. Heroic quests, mythic journeys, and coming-of-age narratives
abound in both classic and contemporary works: Virgil’s _Aeneid_, Dante’s
_Inferno_, Woolf’s _To the Lighthouse_, Dickey’s _Deliverance_, Camus’s
_Black Orpheus_, Hurston’s _Their Eyes Were Watching God_, to name but a
few. Travel literature follows suit, pairing literal passages (from
covered wagon to rocket ship) with characters’ inner journeys. Think
Homer’s _Odyssey_, Cather’s _The Song of the Lark_, Kerouac’s _On the
Road_, Forster’s or Whitman’s _Passage to India_. Even the fantastical
trips of Verne’s _Journey to the Center of the Earth_ or Le Guin’s _The
Left Hand of Darkness_ provide another lens through which to analyze
human folly, ambition, and desire. Of course, presenters need not
explore a work solely devoted to this theme. Papers focused on the image
itself would be welcome, for surely some new insight still waits to be
discovered in the dark tunnel of the tardy white rabbit or the haunted
chasm of “Kubla Khan.”

More important, the theme suggests the way our profession analyzes and
memorializes these literary and cinematic journeys. Regardless of our
theoretical backgrounds, we have all been trained as close readers. We
privilege the passage, often with joy. Who doesn’t know the pleasure of
a “red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain”; the taste of a tea-soaked
Madeleine; the philosophical ruminations of a melancholy Dane? We
believe that sometimes the part is worth more than the whole, and we
celebrate that part in our classroom. Join us.

We invite papers on
(1) RITES OF PASSAGE: Jung and Campbell point to the wide variety of
myths and cultural practices that equate maturity with the successful
completion of a rite of passage. Freud heralds the importance of the
sexual threshold in the formation of any well-balanced personality.
Winnicott identifies the transitional object as the infant’s first
movement towards independence and creativity. We welcome papers that
analyze literary and cinematic works through the lens of mythology,
psychology, and anthropology, in particular those that offer insight into
our journey towards adulthood or the many transitional phases of

(2) SPIRITUAL PASSAGE: Religious texts embrace the term as a means to
connect the real world with the mystical world. Consider that the most
common euphemism for death is “passing,” as if life and death are
separated by a dividing line that one need only pass over. In many
religious stories and folk tales, gods pass among their creatures
unaware, or even pass as one of them: Christ as a man; Aphrodite as a
shepherd girl; Zeus as a bull, a swan, a shower of gold. Faiths that
embrace reincarnation see the spirit passing through different forms,
different stages, before reaching her ultimate destination. Papers
exploring passages of the spirit, be they heaven-bound or hell-bent, in
print or celluloid, are welcome.

(3) PASSAGE AS JOURNEY: The term is still used widely in travel
circles. We book passage on a train, plane, boat, or bus, and the
impetus for such a journey is varied: vacation, rest, family, career,
adventure, love. Travel literature is its own genre, complete with a
long list of historical and imaginary travelogues, from Marco Polo’s
adventures in China to More’s satiric journey to Utopia, from Verne’s
_20,000 Leagues Under the Sea_ to Tolkien’s tomes devoted to Middle
Earth. That doesn’t even touch the boom in 20th/21st-century science
fiction. Epic journeys often require a quest, with a celebratory song to
go with it; from the _Beowulf_ scop to the Beat poet, Arlo Guthrie to the
Rolling Stones, lyricists remind us that “Life is a Highway.” We welcome
papers invoking the call to travel, regardless of the destination.

(4) PASSAGE TO AMERICA: As a nation, we trace our heritage to travelers,
dissatisfied with their present lot and seeking passage to a new world.
Regardless of your political stance, our Statue of Liberty continues to
invite “huddled masses, yearning to breathe free.” We join the current
debate by inviting papers on immigration literature and film, from the
idealized passengers on the Mayflower to today’s no-less-political, but
certainly more problematic would-be citizens, passing into America with
or without a green card. One could also analyze America’s identity
through the pioneers’ attempt to “civilize” the West as well as the
romantic ramblings of our literary icons: the hobo, the Huck Finn, and
the runaway in American narrative.

(5) LITERARY PASSAGES: For the academic, passages are our stock in
trade, the medium through which we journey through the text; for it’s a
rare class that dares to tackle Shakespeare’s ¬_Tempest_ in one sitting.
Instead, we are dwellers, preferring to spend quality time with an image,
echo, leitmotif, pattern, or moment in the text. Papers that celebrate
the “passage” with an extended close reading are welcome. We also invite
papers that seek to analyze the process of close reading or any other
literary theory that claims to illuminate the art form through an
analysis of its parts.

In addition to our conference theme, we also invite scholars, teachers,
and graduate students to submit papers that address any topic relevant to
our profession, e.g., English, American, or World literature; film
studies, women’s studies, and multicultural studies; literary theory;
linguistics; book history and textual criticism; interdisciplinary
studies; pedagogical approaches: class discussion, online courses,
computers and technology, teacher education, English as a second
language; composition and rhetoric; creative writing; popular culture; as
well as those topics that relate to our lives as academics: student
advising; grade inflation; assessment techniques (for student and
teacher); administrative posts and service positions; or anything
relating to the changing identity of the English department: how it is
perceived, appreciated, or utilized by the university.

CEA prefers to receive all submissions (including those for special topic
panels) electronically through our conference management database housed
at the following web address:

Electronic submissions open on August 1st and close on November 1st.
Abstracts for proposals should be between 200 and 500 words in length and
should include a title.

Submitting electronically is a two-step process: 1) setting up a user ID,
then 2) using that ID to log inâ€"this time to a welcome page which
provides a link for submitting proposals to the conference.

If submitting a panel, panel organizers should create user IDs for all
proposed participants.

Though CEA prefers to receive proposals through the conference database
(as it facilitates communication about the conference in a smooth and
timely manner), we will accept hard copy proposals, postmarked no later
than October 15th, via regular mail. Hard-copy proposals should include
the following information:

--Institutional affiliation (if applicable)
--Mailing address (including zip code)
--Phone number
--E-mail address
--Title for the proposed presentation
--Abstract of 200-500 words
--A-V equipment needs, if any
--Special needs, if any.

Panel organizers should include the above information for all proposed
participants. If you are willing to serve as a session chair or
respondent, please indicate this in your cover letter.

Audiovisual Requests: Please make all A-V equipment requests when you
submit your proposal by checking the appropriate box in the online
proposal submission form or by including your request in the hard copy
proposal. Any participants offering PowerPoint programs must bring their
own laptops. CEA cannot provide Internet access.

Address hard copy submissions and any other conference correspondence to
the Program Chair:
Marina Favila, English Department
Keezell Hall 215, MSC 1801
James Madison University
Harrisonburg, Virginia 22807
Office phone # 540-568-3761
(Put Program Chair in RE line.)
Fax # 540-568-2983

As with conference-theme proposals, special topic panel proposals should
be submitted electronically through our conference management database
housed at the following web address:

Special topic panels will be organized in the following areas. If your
proposal addresses one of these areas, submit your proposal to the
database (directions above) by November 1st. Note: Hard copy proposals
will also be accepted, but must be sent through U.S. mail by October 15th
to Marina Favila (address above).

Early American Lit
19th-C American Lit
20th-C American Lit
Medieval British Lit
Renaissance Lit
17th-C British Lit
Restoration/18th C Lit
19th-C British Lit
20th-C British Lit
African American Lit
Afro-Caribbean Lit
Children’s and Adolescent Lit
Hispanic, Latino, Chicano Lit
Book History and Textual Criticism
Composition and Rhetoric (theory)
Composition and Rhetoric (grammar and style)
Creative Writing (fiction and poetry)
Creative Writing (non-fiction)
Teacher Education and Pedagogy
Reading, Writing, and Teaching English on the Web
Peace Panel
Pop Culture
Developmental Education
English as a Second Language
Film and Lit
Religion and Lit
Women’s Connection
Anglophone Lit
Short Stories
World Lit
Native American Lit
Tech communications
Food and Literary Imagination

The following special topic panels are being offered through the New York
CEA affiliate. Like all other proposals, proposals for these panels
should be submitted through the database

Literature and Law
Literature and the Healing Arts
Literature and Criminal Justice
Anatomy of Violence: Examining Conflict
Interdisciplinary Approaches to Writing and Literature
Crepuscular Consciousness: Literature and the Obscure
Representing the Struggle for Human Rights in Literature
The "I" of the Beholder: Vision, Imagination, and Reaction in/to

Questions? Contact Marina Favila at Please
put “Program Chair” in RE: line.

--To preserve time for discussion, CEA limits all presentations to 15
--Notifications of proposal status will be sent around December 5th.
--All presenters must join CEA by January 1, 2008 to appear on the
--Conference registration material will arrive in January and will
indicate registration fee payment deadlines at that time.
--Presenters must read their own papers at the conference.
--No one may read more than one paper.
--CEA does not sponsor or fund travel or underwrite participant costs.

Graduate students must identify themselves in their proposals, so we may
later send information about CEA’s Best Graduate Student Paper Award
(which carries a small prize). Submission instructions will be sent to
accepted panelists after the membership deadline.

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Received on Fri Sep 07 2007 - 14:51:03 EDT